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Student Legal Aid


COVID-19 Update

Student Life offices are closing in a physical sense today, March 18, 2020, indefinitely.  This includes the ASNMSU Office where Student Legal Aid is located.  However, consultations will continue to take place, just in a different format, although we’ve been doing some phone consultations for years.  There will be no in-person appointments with the attorney until further notice.  After you send in your intake sheet as instructed below, we will review it and contact you concerning a phone or email consultation.  If you have any questions, please contact the attorney, Karl Rysted, at  Thank you for your consideration during this difficult time.

What We Do and Don’t Do

Some of the information here may answer questions you have 24/7.  However, this general legal information is no substitute for personal legal advice, so feel free to contact us to schedule a phone or email consultation. Your lawyer, Karl Rysted, will spend up to an hour with you free because you’ve already paid for his services through your student fees, assuming you’re an NMSU student here on the Las Cruces campus.  Unfortunately, DACC & BCOM students are not eligible for Student Legal Aid.  Student Legal Aid is a service of the NMSU student government, ASNMSU.

Mr. Rysted is licensed in New Mexico and has 27 years of experience settling cases and in litigation, particularly in family law (divorce, custody and domestic violence) and cases involving debts. In April, 2016, he was elected to the American Bar Foundation Fellows.  Membership in the Fellows is limited to 1% of lawyers licensed in each jurisdiction.

He cannot provide advice in matters where your problem is with NMSU, ASNMSU or any official or representative thereof because under the New Mexico Rules of Professional Conduct for lawyers, a lawyer employed by an organization represents the organization, so that would be a conflict of interest. He may provide general guidance to individual students relating to NMSU or ASNMSU policies and/or procedures. For example, you should be aware of the consequences of your behavior, not only in the legal system, but here at NMSU.  You should review the Student Social Code of Conduct found here.

The Student Legal Aid Office provides consultation, advice, referral and other services regarding most but not all matters, including but not limited to: potential or pending legal actions (unless you already have an attorney), referral to the proper state consumer protection agency, review of court papers, other documents and providing court-approved forms.   Because Mr. Rysted is not licensed in Texas, if your problem is in El Paso or other parts of Texas, he can’t advise you about Texas law.  Ordinarily, Mr. Rysted will not represent you in court. Students can often handle the legal matter themselves after they have been fully advised. For students needing intensive attorney representation in court or otherwise, Mr. Rysted will help the student understand the legal issues and prepare the student to best select and hire an outside attorney, and some of them provide discounts for students. Mr. Rysted does retain the discretion to provide court representation in rare instances, taking into account 1) the special needs of the particular student and 2) how broadly a successful outcome might positively impact the whole student body.

Trials will be starting up again in New Mexico courts

Administrative Office of the Courts, May 28, 2020
SANTA FE – Jury trials can resume starting next month subject to approval by the New Mexico Supreme Court of plans by courts for protecting the public health and safety as courthouse operations expand.
An order issued today by the Supreme Court lifts the suspension on jury trials in criminal and civil cases that has been in place since March. Courts may resume jury trials between June 15 and July 15.
 “As our state gradually reopens, courts can safely resume jury trials as local conditions permit,” said Chief Justice Judith K. Nakamura. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, New Mexico courts have worked diligently to protect the health of people entering a courthouse. In resuming jury trials, our courts will rigorously follow COVID-safe practices developed by public health authorities.”
Before courts can recommence jury trials, the chief judge in the judicial district must submit individualized plans for Supreme Court approval that detail the operating procedures and precautions implemented for courts in that district. These include steps for safeguarding jurors, lawyers, witnesses and others during a trial, how to maintain minimum 6-foot physical distancing of people in courtrooms and jury selection rooms, and the use of plexiglass dividers and other protective barriers in a courthouse.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, courts have implemented safety measures recommended by the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) to minimize the risk of exposure to the coronavirus. These include:
●       Requiring masks and protective face coverings for anyone entering a court building.
●       Health screening of courthouse visitors, including temperature checks, to determine whether they exhibit possible coronavirus symptoms.
●       Limiting the number of people in locations throughout a courthouse to ensure proper social distancing.
●       Frequent cleaning and disinfecting in judicial buildings, especially high-touch surfaces such as doors, tables, counters and courthouse seating.
Also today, the Court issued an order that will add 30 days to the payment deadline imposed by a magistrate, metropolitan, district or municipal court for fines and fees due between May 30 and June 30, 2020.  People with questions about their payment deadline should contact the court that imposed the penalties.

Intake form

We need to know some information about your legal problem before your consultation, so please download the Intake Sheet.  Complete it and scan or take a picture of it and email to us.  Everything you tell us is confidential so it’s important to be completely honest and give us as much information as possible. Thanks.

“We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice.” – Sonia Sotomayor